New study suggests preschool is a building block to educational disparities

Chloe Herring | 3/24/2014, 4:58 p.m.

A recent report by the The U.S. Department of Education has shed new light on some dismal statistics about America’s educational disparities and classroom disciplines among Black students.

The report, released March 21, shows that the “school-to-prison pipeline,” a term backed by exhaustive studies that refers to harsher classroom discipline of minority students, begins earlier than reported in the past. The idea behind the school-to-prison pipeline is that primarily young black men are led into the criminal system because they are chastised outside the classroom and in courtrooms instead.

But the Department of Education’s report disproves any speculation that the phenomenon is solely an issue for older black children in middle and high school with statistics pointing to higher rates of suspension for black preschoolers.

In other words, Black preschoolers in the United States are being robbed of classroom time because they are suspended more than any other ethnic group - news that may inspire people to take to Twitter to express their disbelief.

And although some people voiced their dissatisfaction, the Department’s findings still remain.

The report, pulled from the 2011-12 school year, was based on a study of 1 million preschool students in the nation. Of those students, only 18 percent or less than 200 thousand were Black. Black students represent the largest racial group for multiple out-of-school suspensions, at 48 percent, according to the study.

The U.S. Department of Education states that suspended students are more likely to be suspended twice, repeat a grade, drop out of school or enter the juvenile justice system. Those risks appear to be exacerbated for students of color.

The report also concluded that White children in America experience lighter punishments compared to their counterparts. White students represent 40 percent of in-school suspensions compared to 32 percent for Blacks and 22 percent for Hispanics, according to the report.

Findings came from the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. This is the first time statistics about preschool discipline have been released.